Chapter One (6/10)

B) Sociological view of the crisis

At the beginning of 1941, two priests were simultaneously sent to Mondragon: D. José Luis Iñarra, as parson, and D. José María Arizmendiarrieta, recently ordained as a priest, as curate.

J.M. Mendizábal recounts it this way: "The then Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Vitoria told don José Luis that he had to go to Mondragon. Don José Luis put up some objections—among others, that he was not an expert in social issues, and Mondragon was a working class town. Mons. Lauzurica reassured him, telling him that he would send him a recently ordained priest who knew about that. This was don José María."1

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However, the first field of activity assigned to Arizmendiarrieta was youth, not workers.2 He then expanded his parochial activity into other fields: parents, etc. Only little by little did he enter the social field. Arizmendiarrieta’s first writings centered directly and fully on social matters are after 1945. These writings—conferences, notes—show a view of the crisis that is quite different from the one just discussed, even though the general purpose continues to be the same in both: the creation of a new social order in correspondence with the Christian vision of life.

Historical observations

Just as we did in part A, we will begin with a historical introduction, which allows us to better understand the evolutionary process of Arizmendiarrieta’s thought.

War wounds

Father José María Llanos, director of the Diocesean Secretariat of Exercises in Madrid in the years 1942-1952, conclusively describes the spirit of the militant Catholicism of that time: "’For the empire, towards God.’ For the Exercises towards…, an anti-Maritainian and closed Christianity."3 Maritain basically did not fit in the system. His translations were primarily published in Buenos Aires. A young Maritainian or Mounierist priest in the middle of the period of the 40s is noteworthy.

However, that will surely seem less surprising, if we consider Arizmendiarrieta’s surroundings. It proves, in fact, that Arizmendiarrieta also falls within what has come to be called "the case of the Basque cleric."

It looks like Arizmendiarrieta came to know Mounier’s thought by the time of his studies in the Seminary of Vitoria.4 The same thing can be presumed about Maritain, with somewhat greater probability. Whatever the case, we are inclined to think that the influence of these thinkers in Arizmendiarrieta begins to really take on importance in the late ’40s and early ’50s.

Maritain, Mounier and the French Personalist movement were already well-known in Euskadi before the war. The Christian Basque social movement, then at its vigorous peak, held them in high esteem.5 However, the renown of these authors would reach their high point when, in the civil war, reviled by their own Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, slandered, scorned and excommunicated by the Spanish hierarchy,6 and despised by the Vatican, Basque nationalists find in them the only defenders of their cause in a Catholic world entirely favorable to Franco.7 "In that climate of hatred and fanaticism," writes the priest Pius Montoya, "of misunderstanding and loneliness that we found ourselves in, the help from the few Catholic intellectuals who raised their voices in our favor is doubly remarkable: Mauriac, Bernanos, Cardinal Verdier, Bishop Mathieu, and above all, Maritain, are names who we can never forget."8 Maritain, especially would be covered with merit for participating actively, going from words to deeds on the committee for aid to exiled Basques, as vice-president of the "Ligue Internationale des Amis des Basques."9

Because of its intellectual prestige and its influence on Catholic media all over the world, the Spanish right wing found Maritain’s position scandalous, since, from the beginning, he had defined himself clearly against "the myth of holy war," considering it an "Islamization of the religious conscience," which could have no other effect than the multiplication of sacrileges on all sides.10 Contrary to the feeling of the Spanish Catholic hierarchy, Maritain judged the Spanish Civil War as a dishonor for Europe, and the pretension of holy war as insulting to God.11 If it is a sacrilege, he replied, to kill and destroy what has been consecrated to God, temples and priests, it is no less sacrilege to kill and destroy that which God most loves, the poor, even if they were "Marxists."12 And if it is a sacrilege to drop bombs on the temple of Pilar, it is a much greater sacrilege to bomb defenseless civilian populations like Guernica and Durango.13 "Kill yourself," he declared, "if you believe you must kill yourself in the name of the social order or of the nation (…); do not kill yourself in the name of Christ the King, who is not a warlord, but rather a King of grace and of charity, who died for all men."14

Arizmendiarrieta was unable to access these texts from Maritain in their day, since they were being published in Euzko Deya around the same dates that, in Bilbao, his sentence was handed down in a summary trial. But it is difficult to imagine that he did not learn of them quite soon. They have to do, at any rate, with Arizmendiarrieta’s first "case," that we know of, in Mondragon.

In his preaching, Arizmendiarrieta referred frequently to war in general, but never directly to the Spanish Civil War. However, a statement of his that every war has materialist motives, an affirmation that dates back at least to Plato (Resp., II, 14, nn. 373 ff.), provoked the irate protest of a parishioner, convinced that "Spain’s war was made to safeguard Catholic Christian civilization."15 After enumerating the crimes of the "reds" and proving abundantly, with texts from Lenin and with quotes from the Pontiffs and from the Spanish hierarchy, that the civil war was, in fact, a holy Crusade, he concluded the protest: "And this issue being, as is it, resolved by the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, IT IS NOT LAWFUL FOR A PREACHER TO COME AND AFFIRM THE OPPOSITE. That is to scandalize souls, as, in fact, it has scandalized us. Yesterday, I did not hear him, but I received commissions protesting the way that he did so (…). Reflect. You found a people in peace. Let them not come to us to divide us with these things, because I know that after the sermon, groups are formed, some very happy because the preacher has sided with them, and others, in contrast, outraged by what they have heard."

Only two months later, the following (handwritten) letter was sent Arizmendiarrieta, as the head of Catholic Action, from the Delegate16 of the Traditionalist Spanish Falange and of the JONS in Mondragon:

Mr. don José María Arizmendi-Arrieta

Present

My dear sir: For days, I have observed that the portrait of the Ex-captives for God and for Spain has disappeared from our Catholic Spanish Action Center. Was it perhaps due to forgetfulness that it does not occupy its place, which should be distinguished after the Sacred Heart, the Roman Pontiff, and our Generalissimo Franco?

I expect that your righteous conscience will be able to correct this deficiency and even return it to the place which it previously occupied to avoid my Hierarchical superior finding out.

May God keep Spain always, and you many years.

Arizmendiarrieta, after some consultations with his ecclesiastical superiors, did not admit said portrait back into the Center.

These anecdotes have no other value than to remind us of the tense post-war environment. They indicate to us that it is necessary to know how to read between the lines and, above all, pay attention to that which, in Arizmendiarrieta’s writings, goes unmentioned or is simply suggested, no less than to what is said. All this also gives us cause to remember the principles by which Arizmendiarrieta wanted see the Catholic Action Center ruled, as he himself discussed the first of June of 1941, upon taking charge of the Center. This Worker Center had been converted, after the occupation, into a political circle; it was taken from the owner group, with no compensation, to become the Catholic Action Center, for the sufficient reason, as the bill of return informs us, that the group had made no economic contribution to the cause of the National Uprising. Arizmendiarrieta’s text, while rather extensive, is interesting because it announces to us, at an early date, the major topics that will be constant in his work.

As the first to rise to speak, it falls to me to justify our presence in this locale, which has a history of 38 years, with a rather troubled history, like that of this town of Mondragon, because, being located, as it was, in the center of town, it has been unable to remove itself from political and social upheavals, despite having been established to shelter in its rooms those who were of a mind to live far from politics, which always divides, shrinks, and embitters the heart.

(…) Born in those years in which the seed sown by some social apostles was beginning to bear fruit, it was called the Worker Center. The social Encyclicals of Leo XIII had come to saturate the environment of the times with social concerns, and after the first phase of sincere enthusiasm, and after the first firm and decisive steps, the enemy began, like always, to sow the seeds of discord and division, so that while Leo XIII was still alive, dissidence and schisms begin, and in his encyclical Graves de Communi, published the 18th of January, 1901, he directs a vibrant appeal to Catholics to embrace the bonds of charity and form—abstaining from matters that divide and offend—a common front against social extremists, whose ranks they are joining, and against the tentacles of the liberal bourgeoisie. "Reality demands, and demands vehemently," says Leo XIII, verbatim, in this encyclical, saying that courage and unity are necessary, "as immense misfortune looms and fearful disasters threaten…" And here in Mondragon, in which the Marxist virus had already penetrated, and above all, ruthless liberalism had put down deep roots in the hearts of many leaders and businesspeople, this Center was created, which, without a focus on unions, struggled for social demands and has fomented the spirit of unity and brotherhood among the Catholics of this villa. This is why it is deduced from reading their early rules that, in the mind of the founders, some of which are present here, this Center was meant to be a social home of the people of Mondragon, in which, in the warmth of the Catholic ideal, it sought to bring together all Catholics and focus them in a tight beam to face both those who exploited the scattered working masses, and those who tried to sow in them, terrain prepared by misery and pain, those social ideas which then showed such a great increase. The objective of this Center was to bring Catholics together more and more, to face common enemies. The idea of the unity and brotherhood of the workers of Mondragon was what induced its founders to create the organization that was called the Worker Center of Mondragon" (PR, I, 15-16).

The objective that Arizmendiarrieta proposes to himself and proposes for the former Worker Center, now the Catholic Action Center, is to create a "spirit of brotherhood and unity," so that peace can be effective in a new order. First, the unity of Catholic workers: Catholic Action is called, in his opinion, "to carry out this magnum opus of world regeneration, creating, in the bosom of society, cores of Christians who, closely united by the bonds of charity and of mutual love, are foci that radiate Christ with their example and with their exemplary life, who, like the early Christian communities, make those who see us exclaim, "the whole multitude of the faithful has one heart and one soul’" (PR, I, 18). Then the unity of all workers, and of all people, employers and workers, will dissipate hatred and resentment, which cover the Mondragon sky with black clouds, says Arizmendiarrieta, foreshadowing new storms (Ib. 16). This is also the mission of the priest, who must act to "cure and heal the wounds opened by hatred and rancor, wounds which, if not healed, can end up infecting the whole social body with gangrene" (Ib. 17).

This is not vain, pious rhetoric. Mondragon had been harshly punished by social struggles and by the civil war.

During the Republic, social instability leads to frequent clashes, both between employers and workers, and between workers of different unions. Employers and upper management of businesses can no longer be seen except with bodyguards.17 In an order that was more apparent than real, left and right prepare among the shadows for the assault on power. The militant socialists of Mondragon receive instructions on the handling of weapons and explosives. Since the crisis of ’29, all eyes are on the Russian Revolution. The wait is long and tense. The weak bourgeois democracy cannot be consolidated, but neither does it collapse on its own. Crises occur. October third, 1934, Alcalá Zamora entrusts Lerroux with the formation of a new government. This calls the CEDA to power. Immediately, the Left declares a general strike. At dusk on the fourth, the Mondragon socialists rise up in arms: following a long-prepared plan, in a few hours, they occupy the town, take the most important personalities prisoner, and take control of the situation. They fail in the attempt to burn the barracks. But, apart from in Asturias and some industrial centers of Euskadi, the revolution has not been supported. The Mondragon socialists feel isolated. Unfortunately, blood has run: a worker is shot dead. He is a Carlist [a royalist]. Some revolutionaries, seeing that their operation has failed, end up hastily killing detainees Marcelino Oreja and Dagoberto Resusta, both prominent personalities in the province.18

In ’36, the Right rebels. The occupying troops enter Mondragon the 26th of September. Their actions would be horrific. The excellent description y J. Larrañaga excuses us from stopping to describe the terror endured by this locksmithing town.19 We will only note that in the large number of people shot in Mondragon for God and for Spain are three priests: Archpriest and parson don José Joaquín Arin and coadjuncts don José Markiegi and don Leonardo Guridi.20

It was more than a defeat. In Mondragon, and in all Euskadi, the drama of the "holy war" would continue tormenting Basque Catholics, who were among the vanquished. Neither as a former gudari [Basque soldier], nor as a Maritainian priest, could Arizmendiarrieta accept that it had been a war "to safeguard Catholic Christian civilization." But this opinion was official doctrine, both for the Church and for the State, with logical consequences for a man of public responsibilities.

In post-war Mondragon, the reconciling work of a priest could not have been at all easy. Years later, we still continue to hear the echoes of that conflict. But it is not our task to go into this topic (we only intend to situate Arizmendiarrieta’s thought in its context). We will transcribe, to finish this topic in all its breadth, a writ of protest from 1949, directed by "Catholic workers" of Mondragon to the religious magazine Surge, of Vitoria:

Director of SURGE

Dear Sir:

All wars are bad, but the most repugnant is the civil war, the war between brothers, and after 12 years, the sores from that cursed war remain unhealed, and religious magazines, rather than seek a cure, work to irritate them, many times lacking the truth. The most painful part is that we speak of a magazine of the Diocese of Vitoria.

"SURGE," the monthly priestly magazine of Guidelines of the Apostolate, no. 63, of September of 1949, in its chronicle "Switzerland in black and white" by Casimiro Sanchez Aliseda (?) recounts the following dialogue with a Dutch Father, a missionary in Chile.

The missionary Father: "You see, little fathers, my Prelate needs priests. I have orders from him to look for them in Europe, and primarily in Spain, where they already have the advantage of the language."

Mr. Sanchez answers him: "But reflect. In our diocese, more than four hundred reds were shot. And in all Spain, the dead would be ten thousand. And that is in the diocese in the North of the peninsula…."

Enclosed please find the list of those who were shot in the Archpriesthood of Mondragon, in which there are four priests, five women and fifty men, for a total of 59 shot by the fascists. Now, on your side, publish the list of those shot by our side (by the red side), let us see if it comes to 5, or even 3, and then we’ll move to Archpriesthood of Vergara, and after you publish the list from Vergara, we’ll move to Eibar, etc. and you’ll see who are the champions in the Diocese of Vitoria.

In the Encyclical Dilectisima nobis Hispania, His Holiness Pope Pius XI quite clearly told Spanish Catholics, "THE VATICAN, FAR FROM PARTICIPATING IN ANY WAY IN THE PREPARATION FOR SPAIN’S CIVIL WAR, ALWAYS RECOMMENDED CATHOLICS SHOW THE STRICTEST LOYALTY TO THE REPUBLIC AND TO USE ALL LEGAL MEANS FOR ITS DEFENSE" (from the "Osservatore Romano"). If the Spanish cleric had fulfilled the mandates of the Pope on behalf of the Republic, we do not believe there would have been such persecution (with this we do not mean to justify, and we have always condemned, and we will continue to condemn, all that lacks Christian morals).

In these days, everyone also knows (except the Spanish cleric) that our beloved and GREAT PONTIFF PIUS XII does not want any authority or power that comes from force, and condemns "totalitarianism" with these descriptions:

"Cruel and bloody irony," "State Tyranny," "Constant threat to the building of peace," "Reduction of man to a insignificant token in a political game and a number in economic calculations," "A blurring, with a stroke of the pen, of the confines of States," "Elimination of immediate decisions from the economy of the people," "Cruel expulsion of millions of men of their houses and land," "Crumbling of secular civilization and culture," "System contrary to the dignity and the good of humankind," "Will and power of fortuitous groups of interests," "Incompatible with a healthy and true democracy," "Dangerous pathogen that poisons the community of nations," "Aggressive use of force," "Tomb of holy human freedom." Pius XII

"Whoever wishes for the star of peace to be born and tarry over human society will cooperate in the State and its power returning to the service of society WITH FULL RESPECT FOR THE HUMAN PERSON." Pius XII

While freedom to form a union, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and the rights of the human person are outside of the law, and while we have the law of a totalitarian regime, with true hunger wages, do not believe that you will trick our beloved Pontiff into thinking that in this, we have CHRISTIAN PEACE.

Keep going, keep the music playing, but remember that General Primo de Rivera, with his collaboration, brought us the Republic, and General Franco, with the same collaboration, must bring us communism.

Several Christian workers.21

When Arizmendiarrieta talks to us about overcoming hatred and resentment, about reconciliation, about overcoming the antipathy of Left and Right, about collaboration between employer and workers, he is certainly not speaking in general, abstract postulates. He speaks as a former gudari and a priest of Mondragon, and speaks for Mondragon, with a very concrete experience behind him and a clear objective before his eyes: it is neccesary give this old world up for dead, which has cost so much blood and hatred, to build a new order of dignity and concord.

1945: Change

The victory of the Allies also meant, indirectly, a defeat for the official Spanish Church, which had celebrated the triumphs of Franco’s troops from city to city, and multiplied penitential religious events: "’the pains of the world,’ a call to Catholic Action tells us, ‘and the threats against the homeland demand that we live by the spirit of the Church: Lenten slogan of prayer and penitence.’"22

Pla y Deniel, in his pastoral letter of the 8th of May of 1945, on the occasion of the end of the war, was pressured to declare that the Church is neutral and apolitical, not beholden to any side in the conflict. As Rodriguez de Coro observes, Catholic Action also felt the need to declared itself apolitical, and priestly retreats likewise ended declaring the priest apolitical. "Every bit a distancing of the Church from Francoism," according to this author.23 It should be added that it was about simple prudential measures, more than a real distancing. At any rate, the system of assurances built in the comfortable interior of the fascist State has been broken. "The reading," comments F. Urbina, "of the reflection of the Church’s public life that is the magazine Ecclesia allows us to discover a change of style in religious demonstrations and in the attitude of the leaders, coinciding with the defeat of the Axis Powers and the end of WWII. The fascist political context, in which national-Catholicism found comfort—not without its contradictions—crumbles. Later, towards the end of the decade, economic infrastructural determinations will begin to turn in the direction of a decisive social change. But, at the end of the ’40s, the change of the political context in Europe creates a vacuum in what had been a stable situation where new questions, intellectual self-criticism and pastoral renewal movements will be located. A change begins of in the life of the Spanish Church which, over time, will reveal its depth and complexity."24

The final defeat was already foreseeable. The triumphalist euphoria gave way to anguish, to the recognition of error, to meditation. In the vacuum that appeared, criticism of Nazism began to be possible in the pages of Ecclesia itself. Professor Sánchez Agesta, in his reflections on the person as the beginning and end of every social order, contrasts Nazi racism and its doctrine of "national spirit" with the Personalist doctrine of Pius XII.25 Communism itself seems to no longer absolutely lack any positive significance. It continues to be the black beast, naturally (it could hardly be Pius XII who would give reason to think otherwise), but in December of 1944, Ecclesia surprises us with the recognition that communism is not pure evil, but rather responds to a real fact: social injustice. And he arrives at this conclusion: "the solely political suppression of communism, without countermeasures of social revolution, is an inoffensive distraction for the communists and tragic for the suppressors."

The words of Pius XII in the Christmas radio message of 1944, invoking democracy, will at first find little echo in Ecclesia, always so willing to laud the Papal message; and very dubious attitudes in the rest of the ecclesiastic press.26 The Spanish Church still lives immersed in the spirit of the Crusade. However, those words would mean, in opinion of F. Urbina, the "beginning of liberation."27

The first affected by the German capitulation on the 8th of May was evidently the State that had emerged with Nazi help: Max Gallo has described this moment as "the black night" of Franco’s regime.28 In spite of the difficulties, the opposition remains hopeful: "the day of the capitulation," writes M. Gallo, "the news broke around three in the afternoon. In groups of resisters, the news is telephoned from one to other. The streets empty out, Falangists are afraid. Immediate action is spoken of by the opposition, by the Allies. In Bilbao and in San Sebastian, Basques go into action, they confront the Civil Guard and, without weapons, are soon arrested, scattered, beaten."29 Euskadi does not give up.

These are difficult days for the regime. The June 19th conference of Saint Francis rejects a proposal by Mexico for Spain’s entry into the future United Nations. On the 30th, Panama breaks its relations with Spain. The 7th of July, Labour triumphs in England, and Major Attlee, who had visited the republican zone during the Civil War, is named Prime Minister.30 The Big Three Conference, in Potsdam from July 17 to August 2, adopts rigorous measures with respect to Spain.

Franco was able react to this siege with unquestionable skill, giving his regime a facade of Constitutional and democratic appearance: July 13, the Fuero de los Españoles [the Charter of the Spaniards] is promulgated; the 17th, he proclaims amnesty; the 21st, he forms a new government, decisively substituting Lequerica in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Martín Artajo, a man who was tightly linked to the Church and especially to Herrera Oria.31 Leaving the Falangists aside, Franco seeks his principle support in the Church. The 28th of August, Cardinal Primado publishes a pastoral letter, once more legitimizing Franco’s regime. The Church thus assumes, from Toledo and from the Vatican, the function of "main defensive line" of Francoism against the Allies.32 Without a doubt, the official Spanish Church sees its own survival in intimate connection with the regime’s possibilities for survival.

Thus we see, within the two Spains, the reappearance of the two Churches. Indeed, the population, 17% of which is illiterate, lives in misery and ignorance. Spain remains essentially an agrarian nation of landlords and small landowners or braceros, who begin to emigrate en masse to the cities. Working conditions are terrible: workdays of ten and twelve hours, insufficient wages, unemployment. Easy wealth, on the one hand, for black marketeers, entrepreneurial adventurers and old-time capitalists; hunger and misery, on the other hand, for a helpless population. It is understandable that, in this situation, the social question is first posed in terms of scandalous inequalities of fortune, of wealth and extreme poverty, such as we find in Pildain, Herrera Oria, and also in Arizmendiarrieta’s first social writings. Abundant labor makes any protest impossible. The unions are replaced with a single, vertical union, and representative workers’ organizations that can demand their rights do not exist. With all other paths closed off and penalized, these would appear in the form of Catholics workers’ movements, with the HOAC in 1946, and the JOC in 1947.33

The first protests, angry in tone, arrive from the Canary Islands, where Mons. Pildain Zapiain, son of Lezo, publishes, beginning in September of 1944 and going through 1945, papers from social conferences held by himself (Lent of 1943), in Las Palmas and Puerto de la Luz, in the form of pastoral letters.

More than in his doctrine, the importance of these interventions of Mons. Pildain lies, without a doubt, in having described reality as it simply was, and in having emerged like a forlorn cry among the chorus of adulatory and triumphalist ideologues. The most disconcerting thing, perhaps, was that Pildain’s pastoral letters, written in a bitter, prophetic tone, were a criticism of the Church and of the officially Christian state, made from within, and from conservative positions. Pildain condemned the situation of worker unemployment, the insufficiency of wages, horrendous prices, the ruin of families, the extent of tuberculosis and hunger, and the greed of supposedly Catholic employers. Pildain came to recognize that the strength of communism rests on three truths: the desire to improve the lot of the workers, putting an end to the abuses of the liberal economy, and achieving a fair distribution of wealth. In contrast, the weakness of Christianity lies in possessing a beautiful social doctrine, which neither the supposedly Christian State nor employers want to see put into practice. He declared all the following prisoners of communism: the State, which wastes millions of its budget without remembering its responsibility to God and to society; Catholic employers and industrialists, who oppose the workers’ movement (which comes recommended by the Popes), abuse the right to property, and confuse charity and alms with the duties of justice; the Catholic press, always afraid to hurt politicians and plutocrats; Catholic Action itself, if it did not end up understanding its mission of social apostolate.34

The impact was enormous. Ecclesia dedicates editorials to commenting on them, and in this magazine, a series of articles will run which, beginning shyly, will deal ever more decisively with social topics. Herrera Oria himself will recognize the social question as one of the bleeding problems that require a decisive and rapid response, attacking the conservative positions of those who "cling to erroneous old ideas, to historical social positions, which are in all ways indefensible today, with irrational and vehement stubbornness, like a child who tries to hold in his hands a toy that does not belong to him."35

"If, in 1945," comments Rodríguez de Coro, "insistence on the social topic seems to gain strength, it is possible that this is due to the end of the war and the consequences in Europe of the socialist triumphs. It was neccesary, at least at an expedient level, to disarticulate any complaint of disconsolation in the exercise of this matter, under penalty of lending a certain consent the ‘harakiri’ of the government itself. The communist threat was there, and a mental antidote had to be found to continue meditating with hope."36

With the war over, the pastoral letter from Cardinal Suhard, archbishop of Paris, on the Christian concept of property, clearly signified the direction the Church in Europe was going to take. The war has ended, the Cardinal of Paris said: the task of every Christian now consists of putting an end to social injustice, without which there will be no true peace. The Church, he underscored, defends the right to property for everyone, not only for a few: it judges the excesses of accumulation, because the reason for the right to property to exist is as a guarantee of personal freedom and dignity; it demands, for this reason, a profound social reform.37

Finally, a controversy was going to make manifest the growing distance between the two Churches. This controversy was going to be led by professor Gregorio R. de Yurre, considered at all times by Arizmendiarrieta as his teacher and friend, and one of the thinkers that, undoubtedly, most influenced his thought. Yurre had summarized in Ecclesia the resolutions of the Social Week of Toulouse (1946), which referred primarily to the opposition between capital and labor in a capitalist business, condemning the principle of the primacy of capital, and declaring benefit to be the "product of labor by means of capital placed at its disposal." The capitalist thus lost his position above the business, and became integrated into the "community of labor." The reaction arrived in the magazine Mission (8 December 1946), accusing such conclusions of socializing and being contrary to the social doctrine of the Popes. "Peleón qualified Yurre, overflowing with science, which came from his recent years in Rome, and clarified the question, chiseling a magnificent article that was crafted with the best quotes of the Popes. Yurre, a brilliant scholar—he would be a perpetual student—even mischievous and dapper, though ecclesiastical, could oppose Mr. Ortiz with resourcefulness on these topics, on which he was a specialist. Toulouse’s conclusions: business reform, limitation of property, nationalization or socialization… agreed with the Church’s social doctrine, which is why the writer in Mission, having been confronted with these principles, proclaimed by Leo XIII and ratified by the Anno Quadragesimo of Pius XI, being directed to the President of these social weeks, talked to him about "structural reform," and the "development of the notions of property and enterprise."38

And so, we arrive at Arizmendiarrieta’s first writings on purely social topics and destined to the promotion of the social movement: conferences, notes, sermons, studies39 starting in 1945, in the context just described. The great crisis is understood around the social question; the social question is centered on the problem of property.


  1. Arizmendiarrieta, J.M., Conferencias de Apostolado Social, Caja Popular, 1978, 8.

  2. Leibar, J., "José María Arizmendiarrieta Madariaga. Apuntes para una biografía," T.U., Trabajo y Unidad, Nr. 190, Nov.-Dec. 1976, 50-60.

  3. Llanos, P.J.M. Cursos de cristianismo acelerado. Ejercicios espirituales, Hechos y Dichos. Nr. 465, 1975, 40-43.

  4. Larrañaga, J., Don José María Arizmendi-Arrieta y la experiencia cooperativa de Mondragón, Caja Popular, 1981, 38. All in all, a professor of Arizmendiarrieta’s who was a disciple of Mounier in a rigorously academic sense seems unlikely; more likely, he would have been a studious follower of his ideas.

  5. Tusell, J., Historia de la Democracia cristiana en España, Cuadernos para el Diálogo, Madrid 1974, vol. II, 95 and 115. That, in Tusell’s opinion, "would be enough to prove the falsity of a statement, which does not become any less inaccurate through repetition: that Basque nationalism was, from the theoretical point of view, something entrenched in the past. On the contrary, the nationalists were in contact with the most modern Catholic thought of the times" (95). Since the second half of 1934, in Euzkadi magazine, where a section entitled "Social labor" already existed, "there also appeared a periodic section entitled Esprit Nouveau Basque, very related, as its name indicates, to French and Belgian publications of the times. This section had a markedly youthful, democratic and social tone; in it subjects of undeniable relevance for the moment were dealt with: the Christian value of democracy, the Christian revolution, and the desire to make the proletariat disappear through access to property" (89-90).

  6. Iramuno, J. from El Clero Vasco, Bayonne 1946, 4.

  7. We will quote, of the already numerous literature on these facts, only the fundamental work of Iturralde,J. from, El Catolicismo y la Cruzada de Franco, 3 vols., Egi-Indarra, 1965.

  8. Montoya, P., in: Ibarzabal, E., 50 Años de nacionalismo vasco 1928-1978, Ed. Basque, Bilbao 1978, 48. "Jacques Maritain, relates P. Montoya, was totally identified with our cause and defended us with special zeal. As all we know, it was his foreword to the book Aux origines d’une tragedie de Mendizabal, that caused such disturbance in international Catholic media and disapproval among the Spanish—Father Pérez de Urbel described it as Maritenian "heresy"—the cause for which Franco demanded from Gomá that the Spanish Bishops define their position on the conflict, which they did, obediently, in the sadly famous Pastoral Letter of July first, 1937, undersigned by all the Bishops, with the exception, naturally, of Vidal i Barraquer and Mateo Múgica." For more on Mounier’s support, see Onaindia, A. de, Hombre de paz en la guerra, Ed. Basque Ekin, Buenos Aires 1973, 100 and 306.

  9. Euzko Deya, Nr. 161, 21 May 1939 (Special edition). For the topic of Maritain and the Basques in the Civil War, see also the same magazine: No. 21, 7 February 1937; Nr. 66, 25 July 1937; Nr. 67, 1 August 1937; Nr. 68, 8 August 1937; Nr. 69, 15 August 1937; Nr. 101 27 March 1938.

  10. Euzko Deya, Nr. 67, 1 August 1937. Maritain replied this way to the Dominican Father Menen-Dez-Reigada, I.G., La guerra nacional española ante la moral y el derecho, La Ciencia Tomista, Salamanca 1937, fasc. l and 2.

  11. Euzko Deya, Nr. 69, 15 August 1937.

  12. Euzko Deya, Nr. 68, 8 August 1937. Quotation is original.

  13. Ib.

  14. Ib.

  15. Letter from X.X. (we omit the name for obvious reasons) to Mr. don José Luis Iñarra (Parish priest) of 30 March, 1942. Arizmendiarrieta Archive. It also seems that this time, Arizmendiarrieta had expressed himself in sufficiently general terms: "In Saturday’s sermon," says the letter, "the preacher made this statement: (I will attempt to employ the same words) ‘all wars, the one now and those before, national and international, all of them have been made because of materialist selfishness.’ This was the concrete affirmation. So, then, it can clearly be seen that as he poses it, he also referred to our recent national war, since he made no exceptions. What’s more, that with his repeated word ALL, he clearly demonstrated that he also included our war." That this has sufficed to provoke such a reaction in a person vested in a high rank in the villa can give an idea of the hypersensitivity that reigned in Mondragon after the war.

  16. Letter from X.X. (we omit the name) of 22 May, 1942. Arizmendiarrieta Archive.

  17. Larrañaga, J., op. cit., 64, I. Chacón, head of the Unión Cerrajera, describes the old Mondragon as "a hard town, it was, and one of the most brutal. I remember my walks with bodyguards, the street fights and endless upheavals in the period before the civil war" (conversation with Larrañaga).

  18. Larrañaga, J., op. cit., 50-54. Aguirre, J.A., Obras Completas, Sendoa, Donostia/Saint Sebastian 1981, vol. I, 563. ORTZI, Historia de Euskadi: el nacionalismo vasco y ETA, Ruedo Ibérico, Paris 1975, 200-201.

  19. Larrañaga, J., op. cit., 59-61. See also: Mondragon sous le joug fasciste, Euzko Deya, Nr. 37, 4 April 1937.

  20. Iturralde, J. from, La guerra de Franco, los vascos y la Iglesia, San Sebastián 1978, 365-368. Onaindia, A. from Hombre de paz en la guerra, Ed. Vasca Ekin, Buenos Aires 1973, 120-123 ("Datos referentes a la estancia en la cárcel de Ondarreta de San Sebastián de los sacerdotes de Mondragón Sres. Arin, Marquiegui y Guridi"). Larrañaga, J., op. cit., 60, talks about Leonardo Urteaga; all other authors, included Mons. Múgica, Imperativos de mi conciencia, talk about Leonardo Guridi.

  21. Written in October of 1949, Arizmendiarrieta Archive. A handwritten note warns that the list of names of those who were shot is on separate page (this page is missing). It seems that Arizmendiarrieta was not outside of this initiative.

  22. Ecclesia, Nr. 191, 10 May 1945, 201.

  23. Rodriguez de Coro, F., Colonización política del catolicismo, CAP, San Sebastián 1979, 388. "Nor has there been, nor is there, servitude towards anyone on the part of the Spanish ecclesiastical hierarchy," declared Pla y Deniel, "much less has it defended nor does it defend a statist or totalitarian conception. We have always defended the non-involvement of the Church in any political regime." See Arbeloa, V.M., Aquella España católica, Ed. Sígueme, Salamanca 1975, 231-286.

  24. Urbina, F., "Formas de vida religiosa en España," in Iglesia y Sociedad en España 1939-1975, Ed. Popular, Madrid 1977, 43-44.

  25. Ecclesia, 13 February 1944, 160. The multitude of concepts and expressions coinciding verbatim between this article and Arizmendiarrieta’s texts on modern totalitarianism, especially Nazism, makes us suppose that our author drew on the reflections of the professor, then a Granadine, for his purposes.

  26. Urbina, F., op. cit., 45. They will have, in contrast, a very positive echo in Arizmendiarrieta’s writings.

  27. Ib. 45.

  28. Gallo, M., Histoire of l’Espagne franquiste, Marabout Université, Verviers 1969, vol. I, 181.

  29. Gallo, M., op. cit., 180 (the translation is ours).

  30. Immediately, texts of writers and laborist politicians begin to appear in Arizmendiarrieta’s writings (among others, Attlee’s book, Toward a New Social Structure, is quoted CAS 82). In the closing speech of the 1945-1946 course, Arizmendiarrieta quotes the British Prime Minister together with Pope Pius XI, taking as his own the following terms from the educational and social program of the former: "laborists believe in the abolition of social classes and in the creation of an egalitarian society. They advocate, accordingly, to give the same opportunities to everyone in education. They will abolish class distinctions which, for the most part, are born of differences in education, and will build a common educational fund as unifying factor in the community" (EP, I, 46). "The object of education," we read below, "is personality development." The equality of educational opportunities will be based not just in reasons of the humanitarian and personal sort, but rather, first and foremost, on social and communal reasons: "the nation needs the service of all citizens. Today, it fails to take advantage of the enormous quantity of good material that is wasted because of the lack of opportunity for cultural formation" (Ib. 47). As we will have occasion to see, these ideas of Attlee’s will also be fundamental in Arizmendiarrieta’s thinking.

  31. Onaindia, A. de, Hombre de paz en la guerra, Ed. Vasca Ekin, Buenos Aires, 1973, 195.

  32. Gallo, M., op. cit., 184. "Fortunately," said Pla y Deniel, "the Fuero de los Españoles, approved by the Courts (…) and enacted by the Chief of State, marks an orientation of Christian freedom, opposed to statist totalitarianism," cf. Ecclesia, Nr. 217, 8 September 1945.

  33. Urbina, F., op. cit., 55.

  34. Arizmendiarrieta read and commented on these pastoral letters from Mons. Pildain in the parish of Mondragon for four consecutive Sundays, cf. SS, II, 306 ff.; the texts of Mons. Pildain are found in the Arizmendiarrieta Archive, see Bibliography.

  35. Ecclesia, 6 January 1945, 18. For a broader discussion, cf. Rodriguez de Coro, F., op. cit., 218-230. There is, in these reflections, from Pildain to the articles in Ecclesia and to Mons. Herrera Oria, two aspects that must be highlighted for our purpose. In the first place, all these authors show themselves to sympathetic to State intervention in the case of employers who lack the necessary Christian social consciousness; Arizmendiarrieta shows a rather suspicious attitude towards the State: the solution must come not from the State, but from the workers themselves. Secondly, in the face of the reigning patriotism, Ecclesia raises social demands, such as demands for authentic patriotism. "(…) It is fitting to wonder if they can feel patriotic toward a State that demands even the blood of those whose situation makes the exercise of virtues and the comprehension of the values of the spirit impossible. This is why the most effective way to fulfill patriotic duties is the defense against internal enemies, against hunger, against misery, against despair, against the sickness or sterility of families, against the infinite and overwhelming series of evils that derive from unemployment and insufficient salaries." The opposition between false political patriotism and authentic social patriotism, born in this Spanish context, will have its repercussions on Arizmendiarrieta’s thinking.

  36. Rodriguez de Coro, F., op. cit., 248.

  37. Ecclesia, 19 May of 1945, 443: cf. Rodriguez de Coro, F., op. cit., 230-232. The overlap between Arizmendiarrieta’s thought and these ideas of Cardinal Suhard, basic in classical Christian social doctrine and repeated insistently by Pius XII starting in 1942, is not enough to prove that Arizmendiarrieta had knowledge of that pastoral letter. But that seems presumable.

  38. Rodriguez de Coro, F., op. cit., 243-244 (the text appears to contain some printing errata; it was obviously Pius XII who addressed the president of the Social Week of Toulouse, cf. Ecclesia, Nr. 283). Arizmendiarrieta refers in various places in his writings around 1945-1950 to these articles G.R. de Yurre, cf. CAS 48, 83, 93, 100, 115-116.

  39. They have been mostly collected in the volume CAS (Conferences of Social Apostolate) of his Complete Works; see also SS, II, PR, I and EP, I.

4 thoughts on “Chapter One (6/10)

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